PAG Explains: Setting up a Multi-Academy Trust 

PAG Staff2023, free schools

PAG Explains: Setting up a Multi-Academy Trust  

Over the last month, the Department for Education has announced plans for the next couple of years of Trust Capacity Funding (TCaF) as well as details of the new Trust Establishment and Growth Fund (TEG). Alongside this, they also released trust development statements from each of the Educational Investment Areas, outlining the educational priorities for these areas in terms of trust development and growth.  

With these new measures, the DfE are keen to encourage schools to join or establish academy trusts. There are two routes for schools looking to convert to academy status: the first is to join an existing trust, whilst the second is to establish a new trust. There are several advantages to joining an existing trust, and there is a lot of focus on growing established trusts, there are areas where new multi-academy trusts are needed 

This guide will outline three key steps to setting a new multi-academy trust for maintained schools or single-academy trusts.  

Step 1: Establish a vision and a plan

Before you can set up a multi-academy trust, it is important to establish a clear vision for the trust and develop a detailed plan for how it will operate. This includes defining the geographic area that the trust will serve, identifying the types of schools that will be part of the trust, and outlining the benefits that the trust will provide to those schools. 

You will also need to begin to establish a plan for the fundamental building blocks such as governance and finances. This should include deciding on the legal structure of the trust, determining how it will be funded, and creating a budget for its operations. 

Step 2: Consult with stakeholders

Once you have a clear vision and plan for the multi-academy trust, it's important to consult with a range of stakeholders to ensure that the trust meets the needs of all parties involved. This includes consulting with local schools, parents, teachers, and community members to get their feedback on the proposed trust. 

You will also need to work closely with your Regional Director and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to ensure that your proposed multi-academy trust meets all legal and regulatory requirements. The Regional Director will be able to advise on the need for a new multi-academy trust in the area and it is important to ensure that your application will be supported.  

Step 3: Submit your application. 

Once you have a clear plan and have consulted with stakeholders, the final step is to submit an application to your region's Advisory Board. Your application should include details about the trust's legal structure, the schools that will be part of the trust, the benefits that the trust will provide to those schools, and the funding and budget for the trust's operations. 

For single-academy trusts, you can find the application form to convert to a multi-academy trust here. 

Whilst the process is a little more complicated for maintained schools, the academy conversion process is nonetheless undertaken by large numbers of schools annually. Convertors either chose to join an existing MAT, or form a new trust themselves. The process for conversion is outlined here.

Once your application is approved by the Advisory Board, you will need to sign a funding agreement with the ESFA and complete the legal process of establishing the trust. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to set up a multi-academy trust? 

The timeline for setting up a multi-academy trust can vary depending on a range of factors. These can include the complexity of the application, the level of stakeholder consultation required, and the responsiveness of the Advisory Board. The process can take anywhere from several months to a year or more. 

Should I set up a new multi-academy trust or join an existing trust in the area?

This depends significantly on the educational landscape in your area. For schools in Educational Investment Areas, it is worth familiarising yourself with the trust development statements, which outline the priorities in these local authorities.   

If you are considering joining or establishing a multi-academy trust, you should also get in touch with your regional director as they will be able to advise you regarding the specific needs of your area.  


To find out more about how PAG can support with setting up a multi academy trust or applying for funding from DfE, you can get in touch with us here or email us at